Thursday, 24 May 2018

"Ommadawn: Deluxe Edition" by MIKE OLDFIELD (June 2010 Virgin/Universal 2CD/1DVD Reissue and Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...





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"…Musical Fool…"

As I recall an “Ommadawn” in Ireland was a bit of an eejit – a fool – a dunderhead. I don’t know if that was Mike Oldfield’s intention - but as the South African group JABULA play the final percussive repeated refrain on “Part 1” - Clodagh Simonds of the cult Irish Folk group MELLOW CANDLE sings “Ommadawn ag ceoil…” which roughly translates from the Gaelic into “Fool singing music…”

Along with his first two albums “Tubular Bells” (1973) and “Hergest Ridge” (1974) – 1975’s “Ommadawn” was always going to be a DELUXE EDITION contender and Universal have done a wonderful job on this intensely layered masterpiece and firm fan favourite. Here are the Hertfordshire themes…

UK released June 2010 – "Ommadawn: Deluxe Edition"by MIKE OLDFIELD on Universal/Virgin 532 676-1 (Barcode 600753267615) is a 2CD/1DVD Reissue and Remaster set and breaks down as follows:

CD 1 (51:19 minutes)
1. Ommadawn (Part One)
2. Ommadawn (Part Two)/On Horseback [Side 2]
Previously Unreleased 2010 Stereo Mixes by Mike Oldfield of the 1975 album

3. In Dulce Jubilo
A-side of a UK 7” single released October 1976 on Virgin VS 163

4. First Excursion
5. Argiers
6. Portsmouth
Tracks 4 to 6 originally released October 1976 in the UK on the 4LP Box set “Boxed” on Virgin VBOX 1

CD 2 (53:39 minutes):
1. Ommadawn (Part One)
2. Ommadawn (Part Two)/On Horseback
Original 1975 Stereo Mixes. Tracks 1 and 2 issued as the album “Ommadawn” released 25 October 1975 in the UK on Virgin V 2043 and in the USA on Virgin PZ 33913

3. Ommadawn (Lost Version – 1975 Demo)
Previously Unreleased

DVD (All Regions):
1. Ommadawn (Part One)
2. Ommadawn (Part Two)/On Horseback
Tracks 1 and 2 are 2010 5.1 Surround Mixes by Mike Oldfield

VISUAL CONTENT
3. In Dulce Jubilo (Original Promotional Video)
4. Portsmouth (Original Promotional Video)

One of removable stickers you have to cut open criss-crosses the base of the glossy DELUXE EDITION digipak and when opened - you get what were the pictures of the inner sleeve of the original 1975 Virgin Records LP. The 20-page booklet features pictures of Oldfield at his Hertfordshire home where Virgin installed 24-track recording equipment for him, snaps of the huge numbers of instruments he played on the record, a foreign picture sleeve of the “In Dulce Jubilo” single and excellent liner notes from MARK POWELL (including interviews with Oldfield about the difficulties of recording – tapes disintegrating etc). Both MARK POWELL and PASCHAL BYRNE (names who’ve handled huge amounts of reissues for Universal) did the tape research with Oldfield and Paschal Byrne handling the 24-bit remasters.

The 2010 version is a revelation. Side 1 was always this dense mass of music that felt too packed in some ways – the remaster and remix brings so much more to the fore. There sweet clarity to the acoustic and Spanish guitars and the ethereal vocals floating in the background. And if I re-listen to the 2000 HDCD version for Side 2 where Paddy Maloney’s Uilleann Pipes (The Chieftains) come sailing in – the 2010 version has gorgeous depth - making his beautiful air even more spine tingling. It’s been decades since I heard the “Boxed” tracks and I’d forgotten how good they actually are – especially the guitars of “First Excursion” sounding like Eno or mellow King Crimson. “Argiers” feels like a Steve Hackett Genesis instrumental circa “Foxtrot” with a Flute added - while “Portsmouth” has only ever annoyed me (and still does). But you have to say that best of all is the 5.1 Surround Mix on the DVD - which I’ve admittedly only heard once on a mate’s system – it’s properly amazing – like the Steve Wilson remixes of the Yes and Crimson catalogues. Gotta invest…

After a critical drubbing and overkill backlash for “Hergest Ridge” in 1974 – Oldfield had time to record and build “Ommadawn” from the bottom up. It felt ‘accomplished’ on release in 1975 and still does to this day.

Nice to hear this 2010 DE remaster give its dense layers that extra oomph. The multi-instrumentalist all-dancing fool rises to play his song once more…and how…
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